“Are you gonna avoid me forever then?” John asked, glancing over at Elizabeth’s bed to find the view was still of the back of her head.
It had been almost two hours since Colonel Caldwell had left the infirmary and not one word had been spoken between the two patients. Even when Carson had come to check on them and had detached them from the monitors, declaring he would just keep an eye on them for a few more hours and then they should be free to go, John had not managed to catch Elizabeth’s gaze at all. After that, she had appeared to be sleeping for most of the time, but occasionally John had caught sight of her eyes open and realised she was just pretending.
“I’m not avoiding you, John,” she replied, adjusting on the bed so she was facing forwards rather than towards the wall beside her bed. “It’d be pretty impossible given that we’re in the same room.”
“You’re not physically avoiding me as such, but you haven’t spoken to me or looked at me in two hours,” he explained.
“I thought you were sleeping,” she defended herself.
“Okay.” He knew that was a lie. “Look at me now then,” he challenged.
She rolled her eyes a little, and turned to face him as she spoke. “John, you’re being … ” finding herself feeling embarrassed again, she quickly turned back, “ … ridiculous.”
“Oh, I’m convinced,” he said sarcastically, with a smirk he knew she would know he was wearing.
It worked, and she looked at him again, eyes narrowed and lips pursed in that ‘not amused’ expression that she often offered him.
When she managed to hold his gaze for more than five seconds, John smiled. “That’s better.”
Elizabeth smiled also, blushing a little.
After a few seconds of silence, John frowned and he asked seriously: “So why are you avoiding me?”
Elizabeth’s response was laughter, which caused John to frown further. “What?”
She shook her head and calmed her laughter and then said: “She thought that was cute.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Phoebus?”
Elizabeth nodded. “She thought your frown was cute… Well you did frown a lot when you first met her.”
“In all fairness she had possessed your body,” he argued.
“I know… But that’s why she chose you, you know… Because you’re cute.” At his mischievous look she quickly added. “Because she thought you were cute.”
John nodded and grinned. “Well, I am.”
“… And because she knew what she would have to do to inform Thalan of the lie she had told us… If you’re gonna have to kiss your arch nemesis, might as well make sure he’s cute, right?”
Now Elizabeth smirked, and John remembered how she had looked at him like that earlier today, and how good it had been to see her smile – even if it was laced with evil intent.
“You know, Thalan actually enjoyed that kiss,” John stated.
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
John nodded quickly. “He didn’t want to kill her.”
“He had a funny way of showing it.”
“If I remember correctly, you did most of the pursuing,” he pointed out. “I ran.”
“You hired Ronon to help you track me down,” she said with a disbelieving look.
“I just wanted to get to you before Caldwell’s men did.”
“Yeah… So you could kill me.”
“No,” he stated emphatically. “So they couldn’t.”
Elizabeth stared at him for a moment, her brow creased in thought. “Why?” she asked on a soft, exhaled breath.
“I thought maybe if I could corner you - and disarm you – we could just…” he trailed off.
“Die together?” she asked softly.
He nodded. “Without the conflict… Actually rest in peace.”
She nodded slowly, a look of sadness crossing her features. “You never… said anything.”
“You’d have thought it was a trap,” he responded pointedly.
The corners of her mouth lifted into a small smile as she sat up on the bed and stretched her back and neck. “True,” she said, looking straight at him again.
Her expression was gentle, a smile gracing her eyes and then suddenly they flashed with that hatred he was so used to seeing. Unfortunately it wasn’t sudden enough and she was atop of him, her legs and arms pinning him to the bed, before he could escape.
“And it still could be.”
Eyes wide, he looked up at her, squirming under the pressure she was applying to him. “I thought – ”
An evil smile crept slowly across her lips. “Your love is misplaced, Thalan… You and I could never be anything but enemies.”
She moved one arm, laying it across his throat and starting to shift her weight.
There was a brief silence as he just stared into her cold eyes, then he spoke quietly. “Well then, you win.”
She raised one eyebrow. “You aren’t going to fight me?”
His head moved from side to side as much as it could, and, frowning, her hold loosened a little, her expression making it clear that she was thrown by his words.
He summoned all the energy he could and lifted himself from the bed, sending her flying onto the floor. Then in a fluid movement, as she tried to stand, he grabbed her arms and lifted her backwards, bashing her into the infirmary wall.
“That’s better,” she grinned. “There’d be no satisfaction at all if you didn’t participate.”
He narrowed his eyes at her. “I will not let you kill this man,” he stated in explanation for his actions. “The imprinting will wear off and we will die… These people don’t need to.”
The eyebrow rose again. “You’ve gotten soft in your old age, Thalan.” She lifted her legs quickly and wrapped them around him, pulling him closer to her. At his look of anger she smirked. “Isn’t this what you wanted?… A chance to express your love before you die… How ironic that my cover story is so similar to your actual feelings.”
He pushed her harder against the wall, rage now burning in his eyes.
She smiled again, then her head turned slightly to the side, her eyes glazing a little as if she was listing to a far off sound.
He watched her closely, cautious that she might try to feign ‘dying’ again in order to get away, but she didn’t. Instead she turned back and kissed him forcefully. Her lips crashed into his; the grip of her legs around his body holding him against her despite his attempts to break away.
She pulled away from him when a nurse walked round the corner, exclaiming ‘oh my God!’ and promptly radioing security – sensibly, not daring the approach them herself.
They both heard the exclamation, but their eyes remained fixed on each other - his questioning her, hers smirking.
“Oh don’t get your hopes up… That was for her,” she quipped, eyes twinkling.
He was about to respond when she yelled out in pain and her entire body tensed. He looked on with concern but didn’t loosen his grip. She started to convulse, flailing under his grasp; her head thrashing backwards. He pulled her away from the wall so she wouldn’t injure Elizabeth’s body and adjusted his hold to allow her body to move but still prevent her escape if it was a ploy.
Doctor Beckett arrived just before security did, and by that point Thalan had laid Elizabeth down on the floor and her body trembled as the convulsions ceased.
Doctor Beckett moved tentatively towards them, eyeing ‘John’ with suspicion in between glancing with worry at Elizabeth’s limp body.
“It’s okay,” Thalan said, standing and moving away.
Security moved towards him and the medical team moved in to Elizabeth.
“She’s alright,” Carson said after checking her for injuries. “Help me get her on the bed.”
Security moved in tighter when Thalan moved to help. “He wants me to go to her,” he stated, a look of plea in his eyes.
After placing Elizabeth on the bed, Carson turned to him and softened at the look on his face. He nodded to the security team and they let him pass, surrounding him as he stood beside her.
Elizabeth’s eyes flickered open and she took a deep breath, her mind analysing the messages it was receiving to determine where she was. Recognising it as the infirmary, she was suddenly flooded by images of what had happened.
Eyes widening she quickly looked to the side of her, finding nothing but an empty bed.
Panic rose in her gut immediately and she tried to sit up, before realising her hands and legs were restrained. She dropped back onto the bed and called for Carson.
The Doctor walked in, smiling, but the wariness he felt was clear in his eyes.
“Where’s John?” she asked immediately, realising there was no point even getting started in trying to convince him that she really was herself.
“He’s fine,” he said first, seeing the fear in her eyes. “We just thought it was best to keep the two of you apart… Seems you get up to mischief when you’re left alone.”
While she noted that it was a good sign that Carson was joking with her, she chose to ignore his comment. “Has Thalan gone?” she asked instead.
Carson nodded. “Although I’m not sure how I can know that for definite. I was sure they had gone last time… Clearly I was wrong.”
Elizabeth smiled. “We’re both fine, Carson. Nothing happened.”
“I know… But it could have done… I – ”
“You cannot keep me restrained indefinitely,” she interrupted him.
He simply looked at her and smiled sadly.
It was a whole day later before Carson would allow John and Elizabeth to be in the same room again. According to his calculations before John had been imprinted, the Doctor had determined that it actually should last no longer than a day. So he kept them apart for the further twenty-four hours, just to make sure.
When they did bring John back to the main ward, he was accompanied by four guards and looking very unimpressed by that.
Elizabeth couldn’t help but smile as he tried to persuade his escort to wait outside.
“Our orders are to remain with you at all times, Sir.”
“Well, I’m giving you new orders. Please wait outside.”
They didn’t move.
“We were instructed not to… listen to you if you tried to give us new orders, Sir.”
She actually nearly laughed out loud as John’s eyes widened and he looked set to remove the men himself.
“John,” she said softly, still smiling. “It’s just a precaution… I’m sure they’ll stay where they are and let us talk privately.” Her statement was directed at the security detail not at John and accompanied by a look that told them it wasn’t simply a request.
They nodded curtly and stepped back to stand as far away as was possible while still being in the room.
“Thanks for that,” John said, moving over to the bed. “I was having flashbacks to the retro-virus.”
Elizabeth smiled. “No problem… How are you feeling?”
“Ah, yet more déja vu,” he joked, earning him a glare of mock-reprimand. “I feel fine… A little bored. Seriously tired of seeing infirmary walls… But fine.”
She nodded. “I feel fine too… Although, I am a little apprehensive. I had no idea she wasn’t gone.”
“Hmm… Me neither.”
She frowned, shaking her head. “One minute I was talking to you and the next it wasn’t me anymore.”
“Same here. As soon as I started talking about Thalan’s feelings he came back. I guess they had unfinished business.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened a little. “Well, we’re both still alive… So how do we know they’re gone this time?”
“That’s not what I was thinking… He got another chance to tell her how he really felt, before they died.”
Elizabeth smiled, looking slightly surprised. “You really are a hopeless romantic.”
John frowned. “Was that actually you?”
She shook her head. “From the moment I was imprinted none of it was me… She must have done a good impression though, to persuade you to agree to what she asked.”
He shrugged. “It was… slightly off.”
She looked intrigued. “I thought you looked… uncertain when we were in the lab…”
“You could have said some – ” he stopped and nodded as he realised what he was saying.
“Yep… Wasn’t me… And she was just thinking you looked cute,” she commented, rolling her eyes emphatically.
He seemed to squirm and she laughed again. “Do you have to keep bringing that up?”
She nodded. “It relaxes me a little to know that I’m not the only one feeling uncomfortable.”
“Ah, so you were avoiding me?” he said, keeping his tone playful, to maintain the light atmosphere that she had established; not wanting to allow the awkwardness of their situation to ruin the friendship they had built up.
“I just didn’t know what to say to you,” she said shyly.
“Do you normally have that problem?” he smirked.
“I’ve not normally kissed you,” she said pointedly.
“Hey,” he said, “It wasn’t you.”
She smiled. “That’s right.”
“Whereas this time…” he trailed off, a suggestive smirk and raised eyebrow concluding the utterance for him.
There was that narrowing of the eyes and pursing of the lips again. “That wasn’t me either.”
“That’s not what she said,” he grinned.
Elizabeth glanced uneasily towards the nearby security team while she directed a glare at John. “Keep your voice down,” she muttered, pink colouring her cheeks.
He took a step closer to the bed. “Everyone knows we were possessed,” he assured her with a grin. “And they also know not to mess with you.”
“Fear isn’t quite the type of respect I’d been going for, Colonel.”
“Ah,” he smiled, cocking his head in the direction of the airmen standing across the room, “But it has its uses.”
She laughed and nodded with a shrug. “I guess that’s true.”
He stepped even closer and lowered his voice to just above a whisper. “You know, I bet if you told them to wait outside they would.”
She raised her eyebrow. “Oh? And why would I tell them to do that?”
He leaned even closer to her and she felt her heart rate increasing. In the corner of her eye she saw a blur of movement over his shoulder, and knew that the security team were now on alert.
“John…” she whispered in warning.
“Perhaps…” he said, beginning to speak at the same time that she did, “because it’s driving me mad having them following me around.”
She relaxed, relieved but disappointed, when he moved out of her personal space after speaking. “It’s only temporary, John… And I agree with Carson that it’s necessary. I for one would like to be sure that there’s only me in here.”
“But if they were still with us, do you think they’d surface while we’re under armed guard?”
Elizabeth was silent, the logic behind his words causing her to reconsider. “You’re saying we need to be left alone?”
“And if we don’t try to kill each other then we’re okay?”
“Seems logical to me.”
“And if we do try to kill each other?”
“Thalan wouldn’t try to kill her… He genuinely loved her,” he said, voice soft in respect for the man, and for the missed opportunity.
“Well, I don’t want to shatter all your hopeless romantic illusions, John, but Phoebus did not feel the same way. If she’s still here, she’ll go for you… And I’m not willing to risk that.” There was a look of determination on her face that he knew well, and he knew there was probably little point in arguing.
“So we’ll just never be alone again?”
“I wouldn’t say never,” she frowned, “But at least not for a few days… I don’t think it’s unreasonable. I really would prefer not to try to kill you again.”
He laughed a little. “And I guess I’d prefer not to die.”
She nodded, smiling. “I’m glad to hear it.”
“And I probably should do as you say anyway,” he said, backing away as if he was scared of her.
She rolled her eyes again. “Funny, John.”
He stopped before he reached his security team. “So in a few days we’ll talk properly?”
Her brow creased. “About what?”
His trademark smirk crept across his lips. “About what you’re really afraid might happen if we’re left alone.”
Her eyes grew wide again and she opened her mouth to speak but no sound came out.
He grinned, gave her a polite nod and turned to his guards. “After you, gentlemen,” he said, waving his arm in front of him.
The most senior guard gave him a sceptical look, and John turned to Elizabeth and rolled his eyes, before turning back with: “Yeah, I didn’t think so,” and leading them out of the infirmary.